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Springs' Pro Bowl Snub Hard to Grasp

He's been in the league for nine years now, so Shawn Springs is at the point where he possesses nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the NFL.

Two weeks ago, for instance, Springs was asked for his impressions of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, the impressive young wide receivers for the Arizona Cardinals.

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Said Springs: "Fitzgerald isn't afraid to use his body in traffic. He'll go up over DBs and make tough catches. He'll block you, which is important because a lot of receivers get intimidated. He doesn't seem to back down from any challenge week to week."

More from Springs: "Anquan is a strong, physical guy. After the catch, he's probably one of the most dangerous guys in the league. He's breaks tackles. He's tough. They have a pretty good young, physical group of wide receivers with the Cardinals now."

The point? Springs could tell you the ins and outs of every group of wide receivers in the league.

The Redskins' cornerback knows the NFL; the NFL should be more familiar with the Redskins' cornerback.

Every year, certain players around the league are snubbed when it comes time for the Pro Bowl, last year's prime example being Cornelius Griffin. This year, Marcus Washington was certainly deserving among a solid group of NFC linebackers. He was named a second alternate.

But what more does Shawn Springs have to do to get back to Honolulu for the first time since 1998?

Every week, Springs goes head-to-head with a dangerous receiver, many times the best the other team has to offer. On Christmas Eve, it figures to be the Giants' lanky Plaxico Burress, who comes in with 68 catches, 1,046 yards and six TDs. If form holds, Springs will do a bang-up job.

Springs, who missed Week 6 at Kansas City due to a leg injury, has been holding up well. He produced six tackles in the 35-7 romp over Dallas, despite playing with groin and back problems.

Following that win, signaling the first sweep of the Cowboys since 1995, head coach Joe Gibbs said Springs' effort was one of the keys.

Added Gibbs: "I think we had a number of stories that came out of the game. Shawn Springs? It was a real testament to him and his toughness. For him to respond like that and be able to play for us was great."

For long stretches of 2005, teams have stayed away from Springs' side of the defense. That's part of the reason for his numbers being way down from last year, when he led the Redskins in sacks (six) and interceptions (five). Springs can no longer sneak up and surprise quarterbacks on corner blitzes. Opponents are much more on guard for such tricks.

Actually, one of the biggest plays turned in by Springs this season came on special teams. On Week 13, St. Louis pulled to within 17-9 with 11:59 left by registering a safety when Mark Brunell lost the handle on the ball.

St. Louis appeared to have momentum when the Redskins' Derrick Frost punted to Rams return specialist David Allen at the St. Louis 25. Allen returned the punt 12 yards and appeared to have found significant running room at the right side of the Redskins' coverage.

Springs put an end to that idea, though. He dropped Allen before the St. Louis return man could get to the edge on his return effort. A few plays later, the Rams' Steven Jackson fumbled, the Redskins recovered, and the game was basically over.

In the 2006 Pro Bowl, Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber, Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall and Chicago's Nathan Vasher will represent the NFC at cornerback.

Last year, Springs became the first NFL defensive back to lead his team in both sacks and interceptions in the same season. Based on residuals, Springs should have earned a trip this year, along with Chris Samuels and Santana Moss.

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